There’s nothing like sharing a book you loved as a child with a new generation, and there’s something very special about being able to pass down beautiful editions of much-loved books.
I recently enjoyed reading the special hardcover copy of Blinky Bill from my childhood to my nephews, and Lizzie Durnan, Better Reading’s website editor, recalls that ‘on her birth, my daughter received a battered copy of Dot and the Kangaroo that her Aunty had kept from her childhood. It’s beautiful to receive someone else’s treasured book especially when it’s a classic.’
I’m a big one for buying special hardcover books for christenings, first birthdays and first Christmases – books I know have stood the test of time. As well as novels, I often choose Alison Lester’s Magic Beach – a picture book which I consider a modern classic, which you can buy in a hardcover edition with a sparkly cover and a pull-out frieze inside. And I can see myself gifting lots of copies of the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in future, too.
Lizzie Durnan says ‘my kids quite coincidentally both received different boxed sets of Beatrix Potters for their Christenings – we’ve read them a lot and will keep them forever – they make beautiful keepsakes.’
What other classics make great gifts? Our facebook readers often tell us how much they love Charlotte’s Web and Anne of Green Gables. Many of them have fond memories of reading Enid Blyton. (There are several lovely gift editions of Blyton’s books available – pictured below is Five on a Treasure Island, with the popular Quentin Blake cover image and brand new illustrations by Babette Cole.)
My sister and I both squealed with delight recently when we spotted the lovely hardcover edition of Ballet Shoes – a book we both adored!
Several publishers have created branded series of children’s classics, which range from the inexpensive to the lavish. Here are a few to look out for:
The Alma Classics (Peter Pan pictured below) are inexpensive paperbacks, ideal for ‘completists’ and curious kids, because they generally include additional stories and/or background information.
The Puffin Classics paperback range (The Wind in the Willows pictured below) also include ‘extras’.
For something rather special and gifty, Puffin/Penguin also offer Clothbound Classics (Goodnight Mister Tom pictured below) with brightly coloured, textured hardcover bindings. A deluxe boxed set is also available, including A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan.
Penguin Threads (The Secret Garden pictured) are deluxe paperbacks with cover ‘flaps’. The cover art is really something special: embossed for a tactile, textured feel that replicates hand-stitching. And the Puffin in Bloom series (Anne of Green Gables pictured) are hardcovers with beautiful floral art on the jackets, created by Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co.
For Australian stories, check out the Puffin Australian Children’s Classics range (The Power of One pictured) – keepsake editions in hardcover, designed by Alison Colpoys.
And finally, some of my favourite Australian stories – Blinky Bill (pictured), Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Muddle-Headed Wombat, The Magic Pudding – are available in hardcover editions from HarperCollins, redesigned a few years ago and featuring rescanned illustrations.
What are your favourite classics to share with children? We’d love to hear your thoughts in comments, below.
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Click on the cover images below to find out more about each book, or buy a copy.